February 27, 2004

Save the Pinata

Learn How

I feel GREAT!

You have to watch this.

Advice to Drink Liquids During a Cold Questioned

Advice to Drink Liquids During a Cold Questioned

Hogwash I say! It's always worked for me. I'll continue to lots of lemonade, Sprite, and OJ when I get a cold. Research be damned.

They Blew It Up

Last night in front of Harry Caray's restaurant, the so-named "Bartman Ball" was destroyed in an attempt to lift the apparent curse that has kept the Cubs from winning the World Series since 1908. MSNBC, CNN, and ESPN carried the event live. Billy Corgan sang an original song to commemorate the destruction and Harold Ramis was the host of the entire circus. The event was also used to raise money for juvenile diabetes research.

Frankly I thought the whole thing was silly. They served the baseball a final meal the night before - surf-and-turf with a ice-cold Budweiser (Harry was a Bud-Man after all). They had fireworks. Singing. It just seemed all so silly.

Personally, I would have kept the ball. Put it in a Cubs Hall of Fame. It has some local historical significance. But if blowing the thing up makes people feel better so be it.

February 26, 2004

This is Just Sad

Clay Aiken's Clothes to Be Displayed in N.C. Museum of History

Cartoon Network in 2004

Looks like they have a lot of neat stuff in the works for 2004, here are two items I'm the most interested in:

Justice League Unlimited
The heroes of the Justice League return in August with a new series, Justice League Unlimited, which incorporates a bold new look and a much larger scope. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern continue to lead the universe’s most powerful superheroes in an effort to stop criminal plots and alien threats that endanger the universe. Now, in Justice League Unlimited, they are joined by an even greater collection of heroes some of whom are well-known, like Supergirl, Green Arrow and the Atom, as well as some that are less familiar, like Booster Gold, Hawk & Dove, Elongated Man, The Question, Mister Miracle, Big Barda and Zatanna. Each half-hour will tell a power-packed story, combining some of the original heroes with new ones as they band together to battle alien invasions, powerful sorcerers, vast shadowy conspiracies and even ancient gods.

They're dropping Flash, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter - but were gaining a whole bunch of new heroes. I particularly interested in seeing how they handle The Question, a character I find fasinating and who has never been animated before. The episodes will be 30 minute self-contained stories. Which will be a nice change from the two-parters they did for the first two seasons. Curious to see how this turns out.

The Venture Brothers
Dimwitted brothers Hank and Dean Venture, their scientist father and his bodyguard, Brock, live on a spacious ranch with a high-tech laboratory. Their adventures take them to exotic locales around the world, from the deepest, darkest rainforests to the most dangerous urban jungles. It’s a dangerous world out there – full of zombie mummies, crazed alligators, street toughs and peculiar super-villains with a score to settle. The Venture Brothers will premiere on Sunday, August 1.

I saw a sneak peak episode of this about a year ago and it almost made me wet my pants. Extremely funny. It's a complete send-up of the old Johnny Quest cartoons. I can't wait for it to premiere on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Plus, we'll finally get new episodes of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and Sealab 2021, which fight for the title of second funniest show on Adult Swim after The Venture Brothers. IMHO.

Sin City Comes to Film?

According to Variety, Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon a Time In Mexico, Spy Kids) is adapting Frank Miller's Sin City for Dimension Films. The Sin City series is by far one of my favorite comic books. As I mention on my Top Ten Comics page, "The story is wonderfully paced, the characters are developed clearly, and the artwork knocks the book out of the park. It's film-noire in comic book form and it is glorious."

The Sin City books are a perfect example of how comics can marry text and art together to create an experience unlike any other. Miller completely controls the story through his words, art, and layout to create a unique piece of art. I don't care how good a director you are. I don't care if you do have Frank Miller involved in every aspect of the film's production. The comic is successful and works because of what it is: words and art skillfully weaved together to tell a story. Any adaptation can't possibly capture that same experience in the book. The best the can hope for is creating another experience that builds tangentially from the source work. Peter Jackson accomplished this with his The Lord of The Rings films. However, the Lord of the Rings is text only - so there is plenty of room to operate when translating the book to a visual medium. That is the freedom that allowed Jackson to maneuver and succeed in his adaptation. Rodriguez will not have that space to operate within. With the visuals already an integral part of what makes Sin City unique, Rodriguez will have to find a creative way to conjure the same atmosphere that Miller created in the original work.

Can't say I envy the task, nor that I'm optimistic that Sin City will successfully be brought to the screen. I'll just have to wait and see. The good thing is I'll always have the books to read and enjoy. Having a movie made can't take that away from me.

Ooooooh, A New Place To Buy Star Wars Stuff

On March 10th, Lucas Film will open the doors on the new Star Wars Shop. It's a new online store will feature an "extensive selection of Star Wars collectibles and memorabilia." I'm sure I'll be able to find some things there I'd like to have.

Star Wars Shop

Greenspan: Cut Social Security

Greenspan: Cut Social Security

As anyone who knows me fairly well will attest, I'm a pretty laid back guy. Don't get worked up very much. Play things pretty cool. Couldn't care less about most political issues.

There are a few things that do get me fired up though. Pissing away a chunk of my salary every month into a dying system that I don't expect to ever see a dime from (and probably not my Dad either) is one thing that royally gets my fuckin' fuming. Especially when you consider that they people pulling from the system now are getting way more out of social security then they ever put into it.

I hate fuckin' social security. Let me keep the money and invest for my own retirement. I don't need the government to help me with this. I'm my own man. I'll take care of myself.

Clear Channel Suspends Stern's Radio Show

Clear Channel Suspends Stern's Radio Show

All because Janet Jackson was desperate for some attention, now we have television and radio networks getting all goofy out of fear of FCC reprimands. Granted, pulling "Bubba the Love Sponge" and Stern from the airwaves might not be a bad thing, but when the huge media conglomerates start over-reacting to FCC threats that's when things can start down the slippery slope towards censorship. Not saying that it's happened already, but if we're not careful we could wake up one day and see that somebody like radio giant Clear Channel is only allowing views and ideas that conform with Clear Channel's to be broadcast. Where's free speech then?

February 25, 2004

Playin' Like It's 1983

I've been cashing in some of my American Express points lately. Got myself a swanky Fossil watch back in December. Just last week I ordered the Atari 10-in-1 game system from JAKKS Pacific

The thing is a blast. It's 10 classic Atari games from the early 80s all packed into a replica Atari joystick. All you have to do is drop in 4 AA batteries, plus the thing into your TV, and off you go. The 10-in-1 contains: Adventure, Centipede, Breakout, Pong, Volleyball, Yar's Revenge, Asteroids, Circus Atari, missile Command, and Gravitar. Heather and I have been playing it every night after the kids go to bed. She's partial to Circus Atari, I'm into Centipede and Volleyball right now. Ian even enjoys playing Breakout - though he still finds some of the games too challenging. I think it's because he's not used to using a joystick. All the games he's played have used a keyboard or buttons. He will learn.

And it doesn't' end with Atari.

JAKKS also makes similar TV games for classic Namco and Activision games. The Namco version looks like an classic arcade joystick. The Namco game player includes Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Galaxian. The Activision 10-in-1 also looks like an old joystick and has games like Pitfall, River Raid, and Freeway.

Plus, JAKKS just signed a deal with Midway to bring some of their classic games to the 10-in-1 TV format. Mortal Combat, Joust, and Spy Hunter (woo-hoo!) are slated to be included in the game console.

Kevin and Elizabeth - you've got to come over and try this thing out.

The Demon's Head Has Arrived

Ken Watanabe will play the role of Ra's Al-Ghul in the next Batman film

Ken's been nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in The Last Samurai but will take on the role of Ra's - one of my favorite Batman villians - the immortal leader of a crime organization bent on destroying 80% - 90% of the human race so that the Earth can be free of the parasitic humans who are destroying her. Ra's is a fasinating character.

In addition to Christian Bale as Batman, Ken rounds out a cast of big acting talents including Michael Caine, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman.

I like how this batman is shaping up.

Stinky Pooh

Disney at Crucial Point in Pooh Case

Disney may be able to make some fun cartoons, but their business tactics are deplorable.

February 24, 2004

Some New Pictures on the Website

In case you haven't made it over there yet, I've added some new pictures to the Photos section on the site. In particular, some real fun ones involving Ian and Emma.

Here's a sneak peak:

In Just a Couple Weeks . . .



The above image is one of six postcards that will be made available for sale later this year. The Clone Wars animated series picks up again March 26th at 8:30 pm CST.

It's Offensive . . . But He's Right

Education Secretary Rod Paige: Teachers Union 'Terrorist' Group

For as much as they will protest the comparison, when teachers use children's education (or lack of) as a bargaining chip for more money and benefits for themselves, I consider that no better than holding a bomb or gun.

A union can be beneficial if they are keeping the whole picture in focus when arguing their points, but more often than not, it seems unions fight only for themselves - considering little about how implementation of their demands will affect everyone else.

February 23, 2004

Hostess Ho Ho Update

While searching the web trying to figure out why Hostess would go and defile Ho Ho's by adding caramel to them (sacrilege!), I stumbled upon this page: The Hostess Page

The guy's collected years of Hostess snack ads from comic books in the 70s. He even interviewed one of the writers of those ads. Pretty funny stuff. Check it out.

Back to the point at hand: Hostess adding caramel to Ho Ho's. What the hell were they thinking! You don't mess up a perfect cake treat like that. Not after all this time.

Be on the lookout for these:


If you see them, DO NOT BUY THEM! They are evil and wrong. We don't need more types of Ho Ho's, we just need more Ho Ho's.

Happy Monday!


Two Colombians dance during the first day of carnival in Barranquilla February 21, 2004. Thousands of people are celebrating the carnival festivities in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla. REUTERS/Albeiro Lopera

This Isn't Encouraging

eaked Pentagon report warns climate change may bring famine, war

Some examples given of probable scenarios in the dramatic report include:

-- Britain will have winters similar to those in current-day Siberia as European temperatures drop off radically by 2020.

-- by 2007 violent storms will make large parts of the Netherlands uninhabitable and lead to a breach in the acqueduct system in California that supplies all water to densely populated southern California

-- Europe and the United States become "virtual fortresses" trying to keep out millions of migrants whose homelands have been wiped out by rising sea levels or made unfarmable by drought.

-- "catastrophic" shortages of potable water and energy will lead to widespread war by 2020.

February 20, 2004

Cool Star Wars News

Two great things to talk about here.

First, I read the announcement concerning the remaining Clone Wars episodes on Cartoon Network. Chapters 11 - 20 are set to begin Friday, March 26th and will introduce a new villain, General Grievous, who is the military leader of all the Separatist armies. Grievous is part alien and part robot and a feared Jedi killer. Apparently Grievous will be the only character introduced in the animated series that will also appear in Episode III in 2005. Take a look at a pict of General Grievous and check out the schedule for Clone Wars.

Star Wars: Clone Wars. All times listed ET/PT.

* Friday, March 26, at 8:00pm: Chapters 1-5
* Friday, March 26, at 9:00pm: Chapters 6-10
* Friday, March 26, at 9:30pm: Chapter 11
* Monday, March 29, at 8:00pm: Chapter 12
* Tuesday, March 30, at 8:00pm: Chapter 13
* Wednesday, March 31, at 8:00pm: Chapter 14
* Thursday, April 1, at 8:00pm: Chapter 15
* Friday. April 2, at 8 8:00pm: Chapter 16
* Monday, April 5, at 8:00pm: Chapter 17
* Tuesday, April 6, at 8:00pm: Chapter 18
* Wednesday, April 7, at 8:00pm: Chapter 19
* Thursday, April 8, at 8:00pm: Chapter 20
* Friday, April 9, at 8:00pm: Chapters 11-15
* Friday, April 9, at 9:00pm: Chapters 16-20
* Saturday, April 10 at 9:00pm: Chapters 1-5
* Saturday, April 10 at 10:00pm: Chapters 6-10
* Saturday, April 10 at 11:00pm: Chapters 11-15
* Saturday, April 10 at 12:00am: Chapters 16-20

And if that's not enough to motivate you to don your Boba Fett underroos and pull out your The Empire Strikes Back lunchbox, then this most certainly will.

From a Star Wars website press release:
In celebration of the exciting September 2004 release of the Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Hasbro has created the Original Trilogy Collection (OTC) product line for release in fall 2004 featuring characters, vehicles and more from Episodes IV, V and VI.

In the spirit of 1970s design the OTC packaging will be black and silver, similar to the style used on the silver series that debuted last year but with new graphics. Complementing the classic contents and the retro style design will be a special logo for placement on all OTC packaging. The line will debut at Toy Fair next week; additional product news will be made available throughout the spring and summer.


Oh, boy. This outta be fun. To see a bunch of photos of the retro packaging and some of the toys that will be coming out read Hasbro's Original Trilogy Collection Debuting at Toy Fair

But all you really need to know is this:


THEY'RE RE-RELEASING A MILLENNIUM FALCON SHIP!

I never got to have one of these when I was a kid - though I did have an X-Wing fighter, TIE fighter, and Darth Vader's TIE fighter. I never had that crown jewel in the Star Wars toy crown - Han Solo's ship. Now that I've got a job and make good money, plus a son who likes Star Wars as a cover, I'm hoping to score one of these this fall when the toys hit the shelves. Though I'd love to have an X-Wing and TIE fighter again, too. Those ships from the first trilogy are some of the coolest looking machines ever created for a Sci-Fi film.

2004 is going to be a fun year to be a Star Wars fan.

The Three Musketeers

Disney is getting ready to release a new animated feature starring Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck this coming August. This hasn't happened in a long time. It's going to be a retelling (of sorts) of the Three Musketeers, with Mickey, Goofy, and Donald in the main roles.

I've read some early look reviews and seen some of the artwork. Looks like the movie will be a lot of fun. Early look reviews always take with a large grain of salt. You never know the motivation for such a review, but screen shots of the film are a different thing. The art from the animation looks rich and detailed - reminiscent of the Mickey cartoon of old.



It's a direct to DVD release with no theatrical showings. Which, from my online reading, seems to have upset some people. That doesn't concern me too much. I would like to see it however. Maybe once it comes out we'll rent it for family movie night at our house.

Another Big Actor Goes to Gotham

Batman's hired a boss: Morgan Freeman has joined the cast of Warner Bros.' fifth "Batman" adventure as the head of Wayne Enterprises.

Freeman will play Lucius Fox, a respected businessman and the CEO of billionaire Bruce Wayne's mega-conglom, based in Gotham City.

Freeman is the latest to join the Christopher Nolan-helmed project as it nears its March 16 start date in London. Liam Neeson plays the villain, Ra's al Ghul, a wealthy international terrorist.

Christian Bale stars as the Caped Crusader. Also cast are Michael Caine (as butler Alfred), Cillian Murphy and Katie Holmes.

Freeman, repped by the William Morris Agency, most recently wrapped production on Miramax and Revolution's drama "An Unfinished Life."

He will shoot Millennium Films and Emmett/Furla Films' "Edison" with Justin Timberlake, Kevin Spacey and LL Cool J before segueing to "Batman." (As reported by VARIETY)

Doh!

Low-tech 'hack' takes fizz out of Pepsi-iTunes promo

People are simply looking up through the bottle to read the 10-digit code on the bottom of the bottle cap needed to get their free iTunes music.

You gotta love the ingenuity of the American consumer.

This Day in History

On Feb. 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, flying aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule.

Fathers - Can't Live With 'em, . . .Pass the Beer Nuts

Gibson Father: Holocaust Mostly 'Fiction'

Isn't it always the case? Dad's always there to embarrass you.

No Wonder Ringo Starr Was Always So Happy.

Drum Sessions Protect Employees from Burnout

Participating in drumming sessions may help people defend themselves from the stress and burnout that can cause them to leave their jobs, according to the findings of a new study.

Hmmm. One of the guys I work with is a drummer for a local band - maybe I should start sitting in with him while he practices at lunch.

February 19, 2004

Batman Gets a New Robin

I stopped reading Robin years ago - mostly because of budget reasons - but I still read the monthly solicitations from time to time to get an idea of what's going on in the title.

In Robin #126, shipping in May, Batman is going to be getting a new Robin - and by all accounts (and cover art) it's going to be a girl. According the solicit information, Tim Drake, the current Robin, quits in issue #125 for some reason and apparently Batman is going to turn around and pick up a replacement sidekick immediately. Seems a little out of character IMHO. In the past when Batman has lost a Robin, he's been reluctant to pick up a new squire. Not that it really matters too much; Robin hasn't been a recurring character in the two core Batman books I read (Batman and Detective Comics) for at least 4 years now. It's pretty much been Batman solo. I've missed having the Dynamic Duo together these last few years, mostly because I like the character of Tim Drake. He makes a good Robin. So I guess this could impact my enjoyment of the Batman comics, if DC decides to make the change permanent - which I don't think they will - and brings the new Robin back into the core Batman books.

This isn't the first time Batman has had a female sidekick. In Frank Miller's ground breaking Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and his follow-up DK2: The Dark Knight Strike Again, Robin is female - a girl named Carrie Kelly. However, DC is making a big deal about this female Robin because she will be the first female Robin in "official continuity". This is only a big deal to the most die-hard comic geeks who are overtly concerned with things like the first time Captain Dingleberry met Lord Doom. I am not one of those people.

I guess I'll wait and see. I might even pick up Robin #126 (and #125 where Tim quits) to see how things go. Anyway, he's the cover art from Robin #126 showing the new Robin.

Toy Fair 2004

The International Toy Fair 2004 just ended yesterday in New York City. Toy Fair is the world's largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere. All the major and minor toy manufactures come out and show what they plan to put on the market this coming spring and summer. For a comic book, Star Wars, and budding toy geek like myself, what is announced at this show can really be a lot of fun for me. For instance;

There's going to be a new Batman cartoon this fall. Of course, Mattel is launching a new toy line to go along with the show. The show is going to use what called VEIL technology. The Batman cartoon episodes will emit a special signal that the toys will pick up and will cause them to react in different ways. Spooky sounding, I know.

Anyway, got to see some shots of the new toys. The Batman figure sculpt looks pretty cool, though it looks like Mattel is going to be producing a whole bunch of Batman figures in goofy outfits.



Also, Mattel is coming out with a new wave of Justice League figures. I've heard rumors that the current Justice League cartoon on Cartoon Network is going to be re-launched Justice League Extreme and have a new lineup of heroes (though I assume Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman will still be there). But I haven't read anything official. Whether these new toys are to coincide with the new series or they're just the next wave in the JL line, I don't know. What I do know is that they are adding a lot more points of articulation to the figures (most notably - elbows and knees). Which will make for some better posing and play with the action figures.



I haven't looked into what Hasbro has in line for Star Wars, but I did notice this little nugget: Playing Mantis is releasing the next series in a line based on its new Rankin Bass license. They release a number of figures based on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer last year. This year they are releasing toys modeled after Santa Claus is Coming to Town.



Really neat. You should really check out Playing Mantis' website. They make some really cool toys.

Toys are fun.

Let's Start Talking Baseball

Jim Hendry and the Cubs were able to outlast the machinations of the Prince of Darkness, agent Scott Boras, and signed pitcher Greg Maddux to a three-year deal. I think it's great. It gives the Cubs one of the best pitching rotations in the league and brings in a seasoned veteran who will hopefully teach the young Cub power pitchers so control and finesse. This should be a fun season.

Spring training also starts today. I've never been the biggest baseball fan, though over the last few years I've seen my interest in the sport grow, but I've often felt like going down to Mesa, Arizona and spending a week watching the Cubs in spring training. It just seems like it would be a fun thing to do. Hanging out in a warm, sunny place while Chicago is still shrouded in cold and snow - watching the Cubs get ready to take on a new season. From stories I've read and shows I've watched, it looks like there's a sort of party atmosphere down there. Not party like New Orleans, but more of a laid-back, easy-does-it, it's-so-nice-let's-play-two sort of party. Fans and players just hanging out, talking baseball and enjoying the sun. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd love to spend a week down there some year. Hopefully I can some year.

Pretty Wild Stuff

Black Hole Seen Ripping Star Apart

Space stuff fasinates me. These scientists are looking at things 700 million light-years away. Of course all they're seeing is X-Ray readings, but still. To be monitoring something that happened 700 million light-years is just amazing.

February 18, 2004

What Is Marriage?

"I'm troubled by what I've seen . . .I have consistently stated that I'll support (a) law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. And, obviously, these events are influencing my decision " - President George W. Bush

Why? Why does marriage between a man and a women need protecting through law, either constitutional or otherwise? What is threatening marriage? Two men getting married in San Fransico? I know I don't feel threatened by that. My marriage isn't threatened by that. Such a statement boogles my mind.

"I strongly believe that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. I am troubled by activist judges who are defining marriage." - President George W. Bush

Ah. So having two men get married in San Francisco is a threat to President Bush's (and by extension his conservative cronies) belief system. Now I understand. That's a perfect reason to argue for a law. Heaven forbid other people not believe what you believe. By all means George, legislate beliefs.

Is This Good or Bad?

The Mouse Takes the Muppets

I haven't decided yet. You know Disney will be true to its word that there will be a new Muppets TV show and other specials. However, will it be watered down Disney warm and fuzzy or the fun and crazy Muppets that Jim Henson over-saw?

Why The NFL Is The New American Pastime

Yankees Introduce Alex Rodriguez to Team

The MLB Players Union stands in the way of the Boston Red Sox acquiring A-Rod because they didn't like the new contract. But nobody says anything when Steinbrenner is willing to throw gobs of cash to make sure he's got all the best players.

How is this good for baseball? You allow one team to buy up all the talent. Sure somebody like the Marlins or the Twins can sneak in once and a while, but in MLB you have to pay to play. If a team doesn't have a big TV contract or an owner with deep pockets, they're relegated to being in the bottom of the division with a team nobody wants to watch.

Meanwhile, the NFL has worked to spread the wealth in order to make sure all teams at least have the opportunity to compete. It levels the playing field and makes for exciting games, week in and week out.

Why The NFL Is The New American Pastime

Yankees Introduce Alex Rodriguez to Team

The MLB Players Union stands in the way of the Boston Red Sox acquiring A-Rod because they didn't like the new contract. But nobody says anything when Steinbrenner is willing to throw gobs of cash to make sure he's got all the best players.

How is this good for baseball? You allow one team to buy up all the talent. Sure somebody like the Marlins or the Twins can sneak in once and a while, but in MLB you have to pay to play. If a team doesn't have a big TV contract or an owner with deep pockets, they're relegated to being in the bottom of the division with a team nobody wants to watch.

Meanwhile, the NFL has worked to spread the wealth in order to make sure all teams at least have the opportunity to compete. It levels the playing field and makes for exciting games, week in and week out.

February 17, 2004

Johnny-Light

Johnny-Light Toilet Bowl Night Light

You've got to see it to believe it.

I think I want to buy it.

February 16, 2004

Mmmmmm . . . Pie

Heather and I don't usually do anything special for Valentine's Day. We'll get each other cards, but that's about it. Once and a while we might get a present for the other person - but that doesn't happen very frequently.

However, Heather never fails to make some wonderfully sweet dessert for us to enjoy on February 14th. This year it was the Cherry Ribbon Pie. A delightful mix of cheesecake-flavored pudding, cherries, and a little cream cheese. Very good. I'm a lucky man.

These Pipes Are Cleeeeeeeeean!

Aurora Lifts Boil Order

Sunday the news came down that the EPA and local officials had determined that whatever had contaminated Aurora's water had finally been removed from the system. None too soon either. That was 9 days of boiling water before we could drink, brush our teeth, or wash/cook food in it. It was starting to get annoying. Necessary, I know, but annoying none the less. I'm glad it's over.

Why I'll Always Be a Mac-guy

Experts Warn of Microsoft 'Monoculture'

February 13, 2004

Ewww

Biting Bedbugs Spread Across the Country

Bedbug infestations are one the rise in the U.S. at a rate of 300%. That's amazing.

Real nasty little photo in this article too.

Elivs Rocks

Elvis Presley is fantastic. Listening to Bossa Nova Baby right now. This guy simple rocks.

Interesting Batman Movie Development

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Liam Neeson is in final negotiations to star opposite Christian Bale in Warner Bros. Pictures' upcoming Batman movie being directed by Christopher Nolan and produced by Emma Thomas. Neeson would join Bale -- set to play Bruce Wayne, aka Batman -- and Michael Caine, who is appearing as Wayne's butler, Alfred. Katie Holmes and Cillian Murphy also have been cast. The studio declined comment on Neeson's role.

Taking a look at the people involved with the new Batman movie, I gotta believe it's going to be unlike any previous incarnation of the Caped Crusader on the silver screen. Just like the new cartoon series coming this fall, I can't wait to get a look at the new Batman movie.

New Batman Cartoon

This fall Warner Brothers Animation is debuting a new Batman cartoon. It will run on the Cartoon Network and the Kids' WB syndicated network, just like the current Teen Titans show does. Called The Batman, the new cartoon will focus on a Bruce Wayne/Batman in his mid-20s, just starting out his crime fighting career as a masked vigilante.

I've only seen two pieces of art for the new series, a title page and poster sort of image. From that limit selection it looks like the art will be completely different than the Batman of the first animation series and Justice League. The new art styling looks exciting. I'm eager to see it.

February 12, 2004

The Greatest Thing You Will See Today

Somebody set scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas to OutKast's song "Hey Ya". It is fantastic.

It's 8.2 mb, but it's worth every second. Watch it now

I've already watched it a few times myself.

Legendary DC Comics Editor Julie Schwartz Dies

NEWSARAMA - DC'S EULOGY FOR JULIE SCHWARTZ

I've been meaning to mention this here all week. Outside of Jack "The King" Kirby and Stan Lee, no single person has had as profound an effect on comics than Julie Schwartz. He almost single-handedly ushered in what is refered to as the Silver Age of comics in 1956 and probably saved the industry.

For comic books fans, he will be greatly missed.

Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures

This June Dark Horse Comics will be publishing a 96 page comic containing a number of Star Wars: Clone Wars stories in the style of the Cartoon Network micro-series.

Dark Horse has done a pretty good job with the Star Wars franchise up to this point. I've flipped through a few issues at the comic shop, but haven't bought any. I like to stick to the movies for my Star Wars action. Well, I did buy one. Ian wanted it on a trip to the shop a few months back. The story was strong and the art excellent. It really looked interesting.

For as much as Ian likes Star Wars and comic books, I think it's a lock I'll be buying this. Plus, it's in the style of the animated series that Ian really had fun with. Seems to be a winner all around.

You can read some more about the comic book on the Dark Horse Website: Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Vol. 1 TPB

A-Ha!

Comcast Bid Stirs Media Cauldron: Offer Raises Concern About Ownership of TV, Internet Access

Looks like someone in Congress is paying attention to this. Thank you, Sens. Mike DeWine and Herb Kohl.

Pretty Girls in Bikinis

Yesterday the annual temporary reprieve from winter arrived in my mailbox in the form of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Say what you will, but I love it. How can you not like pictures of pretty girls. Especially a pretty girl in a bikini. Oooh. Pretty girls in bikinis.

The Beach Boys sang how they wish all girls could be California girls. If that's true, then I want all those California girls to be Marisa Miller

Bummer...

ATHENS (Reuters) - An angry husband who came across a video of his wife having sex with her lover on the Internet called the police who arrested a man suspected of filming a string of people without their consent, police said Thursday.

The 25-year-old cheating wife had been secretly filmed and the video was posted on the net when the man stumbled across it. "The husband saw his wife and immediately called a prosecutor to get his wife's clip off the net," a police source said.

After checking the suspect's computers, officers discovered hundreds of erotic clips filmed without consent which were posted on a free access site. The suspect was charged with violating a "sensitive personal information" act.

February 11, 2004

Y: The Last Man - Unmanned

Finished the first Y: The Last Man trade paperback last night. Titled Unmanned, it collects the first story arc of the award winning comic book series from DC/Vertigo.

The high concept for the book, taken from the back cover of the trade, goes something like this: In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome - with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This "gendercide" instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.

Yorick Brown is the last man on Earth and who Y: The Last Man is about. This first book is all setup essentially. The book begins recounting the moments before the mysterious plague hits and then goes about establishing our main characters and how a world where all the males are dead might function.

It's all very interesting stuff. Writer Brian K. Vaughan has some great ideas and has really put some thought into what would happen to society if all males simply stopped living at the same time. The political, social, economic ramifications of a world instantly void of men - the ground work for exploring all those things are laid out in this first story arc.

The series has earned gobs and gobs of praise and awards. It tops all sorts of people's "must read" lists. Along with Fables and The Losers, Y: The Last Man is being heralded as the next great book from DC/Vertigo - following in the steps of such standout series as Sandman, Preacher, and Transmetropolitan.

Now I've read the first Fables collection and loved it. I've already picked up the second book and hope to get to it soon. I've been reading The Losers in the monthly format since it debuted and it is probably my favorite monthly comic right now. My expectations for Y were pretty high. I've only read extraordinary things about the book and I had been so impressed by the other two series from DC/Vertigo that Y is constantly grouped together with.

So I was a little surprised that after finishing the book I felt so ho-hum about the whole thing. The premise is great. The ideas and situations Vaughan has conjured are fantastic. I just found the whole finished product rather lack luster. Thinking about it I believe it comes down to Pia Guerra's art and the lead character of Yorick.

Guerra's art is great. Nice clean lines - very fresh and realistic. Not at all the style I would have expected for a book dealing with such an apocalyptic event. I guess I was expecting something a bit darker. More stylized. I think the choice of art style robbed some of the emotional punch of the book for me.

And I just didn't like Yorick. He talks too much. He's a bit of an ass. If I can't find a reason to like or relate to the main character of a book, then I'm not going to want to continue reading about him. In fact, at the end of the book I really wasn't too interested in learning what happened next to Yorick. I was interested in exploring the world without men that Vaughan has created, but I don't want Yorick as my guide. I guess I'll be taking a pass on the rest of this series. That's okay, I still have The Losers and Fables

Bush Plans to Endorse Marriage Amendment

Report: Bush Plans to Endorse Marriage Amendment

I'm sorry - the constitution is no place to define marriage. Why bog down that document with silly little fringe items like the definition of marriage.

I don't understand the sudden rush to define marriage as the union of a man and woman. What is threat of two men or two women being "married"? I don't see any threat.

For a long time now my definition of marriage has been two people publicly pledging their love to one another and their commitment to remain together and faithful as a couple. Gender really doesn't play a part. What's the difference between a civil union and marriage - that one takes place within a church, temple or mosque and one doesn't? If it is, I guess I still don't see a threat. It just seems like semantics to me. And creating a constitutional amendment over semantics seems silly.

Ah-Ha!

A full night's sleep? Not everyone needs it

And I certainly won't be getting it as long as my children live with me.

Why is it so hard for kids to sleep. You'd think it was pretty self-explanatory. You're tired. You lay down and go to sleep. Why do they fight it so much? Why do they wake up so much in the middle of the night and want their Mommy?

Argh. Kids.

Comcast Makes Unsolicited Bid for Disney

Comcast Makes Unsolicited Bid for Disney

Who'd a thunk Disney could be bought by anyone. In my mind, Disney is the company that buys the other companies.

It's certainly an interesting proposal. However, if the deal was to be done, it would be yet another case of consolidation reducing the number of unique voices in the media. Every takeover makes American media and entertainment blander and blander.

February 10, 2004

Me Smart - I think

Took the eMode Classic IQ test over lunch. Only took about 10 minutes. According to eMode, their test is the most thorough and scientifically accurate IQ Test on the Web.

My score: 136. Which according to some websites I read is an IQ higher than 98% of all persons taking this test. Another site indicated that this score shows I'm highly gifted.

eMode also claims that I am a Visonary Philosopher, which means I am highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways.

All very interesting and fun to talk about, but nothing I'm going to bank on. At the end of the day it was about a 40 question test I took on a website.

OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD!


Original 'Star Wars' Trilogy Set for Sept. DVD Bow

OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD!

There will be only one item on my birthday list this November.

Last year it was Indiana Jones, this year it will be Star Wars This will be so great. Ian and I are going to have a Star Wars weekend.

Hull proves money no object in bid for Senate

Hull proves money no object in bid for Senate

It's the truth too. This guy is everywhere here in Illinois. I've been seeing his banner ads on Yahoo! for the last two months. His commericals are showing up in primetime now. He even had a guy at the train station this morning handing out flyers. Hull is everywhere. I have no idea who the other candidates are.

February 09, 2004

Ian's Got Homework

Just got off the phone with Heather. Ian has received his first legitimate homework. He's in Preschool

He brought home the Letter Box from school today. The current letter is "N". Ian has to find a number of items that start with the letter "N" and put them in the box. He also has to find a number of pictures of things that start with "N", cut them out, and glue them to these special pieces of paper. All of this has to be done by Wednesday so he can return to school with a fill Letter Box.

Oh. The pressure.

The Return of The King

Heather and I got to go see The Return of The King on Sunday. My sister came over to babysit for the 4 hours we would be gone watching the film. For which I am grateful for because it allowed me to experience a superior film on the big screen (even if I had to suffer through sticky floors and loudly crunching movie watchers).

Return of the King was by far the finest film I have seen in a very long time. I'm not sure if the strength of the film came from the build up from the first two or the skill by which the final film was assembled, but this film really left me in awe of its achievements both in storytelling and technical advances. Peter Jackson's skill with using special effects to vividly create the fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien, was matched by his superb handling of the epic tale of good versus evil.

The movie was exciting, touching, and moving in ways I didn't expect from a big old fantasy epic. The love story between Aragorn and Arwen was flat, and almost forgotten, among the battles and the speeches and the calls to arms, but that's okay - Jackson tried to play it up more than it ever was in the books to try and balance the movie to appeal to more viewers. What shone through all the fighting, the clashing of swords, and the roar of the Nazgûl was the friendship of the fellowship and the resolve of those on the side of good to fight against all odds against forces of evil. That was the strength of the film. Personalizing the struggles of archetypes of good versus evil. The special effects just made it all seem that more real - more true. It struck a cord with me.

Great film. Worthy of an Oscar in my opinion.

I'm really looking forward to owning all three of these movies and getting to watching them over again.

February 07, 2004

Boilin' Water

Welcome to the City of Aurora Web - don't drink the water.

From the City of Aurora website:
The City of Aurora has issued a precautionary boil order for all city water customers until further notice.

A routine test has indicated positive levels of total coliform, which could indicate the presence of potentially harmful bacteria in the water supply.

We do not believe that City water presents a health hazard at this time, but we want to take every precaution.

City water customers are advised to boil water for five minutes before drinking, brushing teeth, making ice cubes or any other activity requiring human consumption.


We found out about this Friday night at 8:30 when a friend of ours called to let us know. Heather and I were up late boiling a bunch of water so we'd be set to go Saturday morning. I made the mistake of looking up total coliform on the EPA's website. While they do say coliform's are essentially harmless; if they are detected, then further analysis must be done to "determine if specific types of coliforms (i.e., fecal coliforms or E. coli) are present."

FECAL COLIFORMS and E. COLI!!! Holy crap. That doesn't sound good. After reading that last night, I put on a couple more pots of boiling water.

Hopefully everything gets sorted out quickly. Not feeling safe about the water in you house is kinda a scary feeling.

February 06, 2004

Now That's What I'm Talking About

Star Wars Pins

Who'd have thunk it. Pin USA makes a whole bunch of label pins based on the Star Wars characters and movies. Some of them are pretty neat looking.

They also make Elvis pins.

Just thought this was interesting.

February 05, 2004

It's a Keeper

coverFinished Greg Rucka's first novel, Keeper, last night on the train. I don't usually read on the train ride home at night (opting to listen to music/Steve Dahl and sleep), but I only had about 20 pages to go and Rucka was building things up to a fever pitch (as usual).

Keeper is the first Atticus Kodiak novel. Kodiak is a professional bodyguard hired to protect Felice Romero, director of a Manhattan abortion clinic targeted by militant pro-lifers. Kodiak gets wrapped up personally in the challenge of keeping Dr. Romero and her 16-year old daughter who has Down's syndrome. Some murders, some explosions and some high tension make this a thrilling suspense novel.

I am a huge fan of Rucka's writing. Keeper is the fifth Rucka novel I've read - the fourth Atticus Kodiak novel. The Kodiak novels are basically thriller genre books, but Rucka elevates himself above a cliched genre writer in how he handles his characters. A genre writer will usually develop the plot, find characters that fit or help move the plot, and write from there. Rucka, in creating a series around Atticus Kodiak, has to pay attention to his characters. Make them real. Then he writes to what his characters would do in the genre situations that he places them in. The plot no longer dictates the writing, but the characters in the plot drive the story. It makes for a richer read.

Consider John Grisham or Tom Clancy. These two writers also develop great suspense novels. They work within the genre with their own spin. Courtroom suspense for Grisham, Military suspense for Clancy. I've read novels written by both of them and found their books very entertaining at first. However, after a few novels I grew tired of reading their work. The patterns in their plotting were quickly identifiable and the characters were disposable. Without an emotional investment in the character or a novel plot or story line, my interest in their writing dissolved. There are two ways to overcome this: Create richly detailed characters that you can carry from book to book - spending time to build these characters into living people who chance and learn from their experiences. Or you can strive to push the genre in new and exciting directions. Stephen King pushes the genre - hence his success commercially and critically. Rucka goes the other route and spends time developing his characters to see how they react within the genre.

What also helps Rucka's writing is his technical expertise in his material. Grisham used to be a lawyer, so he brings a level of expertise in law to his writing that makes everything that more real to the reader. Clancy is the same way with his military knowledge. He's studied and researched extensively all aspects of the military so he can bring a heightened sense of realism to his books. Rucka has accomplished the same thing with his Kodiak novels. Not only is Rucka's police procedure knowledge top notch, his writing reveals a depth of knowledge of the world of professional protection (and later on in the series, professional assassins) that boggles the mind.

What can I say? I just love these books. I'm seriously considering re-reading all the Kodiak novels in chronological order, now that I have the complete series up to this point. Keeper, Finder, Smoker (which I haven't read, but just got for Christmas), Shooting at Midnight, and Critical Space. I enjoy them that much.

You like good suspense with relatable characters? Rucka's your man.

The Rise of Home Theater Systems

Let's All Gather Round the Screen

This is where I'd love to be in a few years - once the kids are old enough to respect all the components. I've already got a nice system, but I would enjoy a larger screen to complete the home theater experience and a slightly better speaker configuration. Maybe even some upgraded speakers.

I also have to agree with what many of the people interviewed in this article say about going to theaters. Particularly what one home theater and movie enthusiast said, "I like to be swept away by a Lana Turner and Clark Gable on the high seas, and that's hard when the person behind you is being an idiot."

31 Days of Oscar

Every year the Turner Classic Movie channel does a month of only Oscar nominated and winning films. It's all leading up to the actual Academy Awards show. We've never had TCM in the past to take advantage of this fantastic month-long event, so I'm very excited to check it out this year.

TCM breaks comes up with a theme for each day of movies; Best Actress, Best Song, Best Editing, then shows films that had been nominated or won in those categories. It's really a lot of fun. TCM is going to be showing a lot of great movies. I hope to check out as much as possible. This could make for a lot of late nights - especially at towards the end of the 31 days when TCM runs a 72 hour movie marathon leading into the Oscar show featuring all Best Picture winners.

Either check out the Turner Classic Movies website to learn more, or just go ahead and print out the 31 day schedule to see when all these great films will be shown.

February 04, 2004

New Batman Animated Series

I've read it on a number of websites, including Adam West's, that there will be a new Batman animated series on Cartoon Network and the Kids WB this fall. According to reports, it will feature a younger Batman - whatever that means.

As long as it's being handled by the same crew who put together the first Batman sereis, Superman, Justice League and Teen Titans, then I'm confident it will be another quality show. I can't wait.

Monkey Strong!!

I've been using the WeatherBug for the last few weeks and really enjoy it. I get weather information updated all the time: temperature, wind chills, radar, etc.. Plus, I get weather alerts as soon as the happen. This one came across the board moments ago and it gave me pause.

The National Weather Service IN Chicago Has Issued A Winter Storm Watch.

Snow Will Begin Late Tonight Over Central Illinois, And Then Spread Over Northeast Illinois By Midday Thursday And Northwest Indiana Early Afternoon. General Snow Amount Of 5 To 8 Inches Are Possible Before It Diminishes By Midnight Thursday Night. IN Areas From Around Paxton To Rensselaer The Snow Will Mix With Some Sleet Early Tomorrow Night.


Okay, pretty standard stuff. But here's the kicker:

There Is Potential For Heavy Snow Of 6 Inches Or More. Check Supplies Of Food And Fuel. Check The Latest Forecast Before Making Travel Palns.

Check supplies of food and fuel?! Oh my God! The world is ending tomorrow in a fluffy blanket of snow.

Now maybe it's just because I don't read every alert in detail, but that seemed a bit extreme. Funny though. Very funny.

Can't We Get These Guys a Job With NASA or Something?


The U.S. Coast Guard is seen intercepting a group of Cuban migrants sailing towards the Florida Straits on a modified 1959 Buick Tuesday February 3, 2004. The pilots were the same two men who tried to sail a converted 1951 Chevy flatbed truck to the U.S. last year. Nine other migrants, including wives and children.

Doesn't Powell Like Boobies?

FCC Seeks Halftime Show Tape

FCC Chairman Michael Powell, son of Colin, apparently was not breastfed as a child. I have to imagine that he figures slapping CBS and Viacom for showing one hundreth of a second of Janet Jackson's boobie makes up for his attempts to to destroy the nation's airwaves with rules that would nearly eliminate any sort of unique local programming on radio or television.

Aren't there bigger fish for the FCC to fry? It was just a split second of a middle-aged woman's breast. Get over it.

February 03, 2004

Well This Isn't Any Fun

Not sure if I'll get to blog anything of note today.

1) Work is a bitch. All pressure - pressure / the sky is falling crap that pisses me off more than anything.

2) Nothing interesting in the news to talk about.

3) I haven't gotten to read any more comics lately.

4) Nothing new going on in my life.

Ho-hum.

February 02, 2004

Pretty Good Weekend, Lousy Beginning of the Week

Things went pretty well this weekend. I was able to obtain a nice balance of work and rest, while keeping stress levels low.

Don't remember Friday night, but I do remember I didn't do much of anything - and didn't feel guilty about it later. So it couldn't have been a bad thing.

Saturday I was able to get some things done around the house and still had time to take Ian sledding. He's never been sledding before, so it was quite a thrill. The temperatures on Saturday were warmer than they were earlier in the week - but not very. What helped was that the sun was out all morning and into the afternoon - it made things much more tolerable outside.

Ian and I headed out to a hill not to far from our house. It's a good-sized hill. High, with some steep stops, but a good "starter" hill for a 4-year old who's never slid down a hill before. We started out on the least steep side. Ian sat down, I gave him a push, and off he shot down the hill. I could hear him laughing and hooting the whole way. He got to the bottom and bounced right up. He loved it!

The problem was that he couldn't carry the sled up the hill, so I had to run down the hill to help him back up. Looked like I was going to get a lot more of workout than I originally planned on when taking him sledding.

One trip down the bunny-hill and Ian was ready for the steep side. He was intent on going down the side that had been worn down to a slick-icey sheen, so I convinced him that I should ride with him. We loaded ourselves on and took off.

It's been a number of years since I've been sledding. The rush is still there. Sledding is a lot of fun.

We spent the next 45 minutes going up and down the hill. Sometimes together. Sometimes solo. Ian got a kick that one side of the hill deposited us on top of a frozen creek. He started going down head-first to increase his speed. I think he had a lot of fun. After sledding we spent some time playing in the park. But when the clouds rolled in and hide the sun, it quickly felt much colder and we both decided it was time to head home.

All in all, not a bad first sledding trip.

That night was family movie night. We all watched Sleeping Beauty, during which Ian proudly announced that he was Prince Philip. (This was before the romantic link was established between Philip and the Princess, I'm not sure how things changed once he saw Philip and the Princess together) Later that night Heahter and I got to watch Catch Me If You Can, the story of Frank Abagnale Jr starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. We both enjoyed the movie a great deal. It was a nice change to just sit back on the couch and watch a movie and not worry about getting this or that done.

Sunday I did work on getting something done though. Finished off the shelving and the carpeting in the basement. The room looks real nice. All that's left is moving some more of the toys and such down there, including Ian Thomas the Tank Engine train table. We're planning on doing that this coming weekend, after which we will move Ian and Emma into the same room together.

I think both Heather and I are a little nervuous about the move. We're not quite sure how Ian and Emma are going to handle sleeping in the same room together. We're not sure how Ian is going to handle not having his own room - over the last year it really has become his sanctuary. He closes the door and plays with his Thomas toys all by himself when he needs time away from Emma or us. Emma still wakes up in the middle of the night most nights and we're afraid how it will effect Ian's sleep.

Arrgh. Anyway.

Watched the Super Bowl over at my Dad's house. My grandparents were there too. So it was a nice little visit. The game was a drag for the first half. I really didn't pay any attention to the commercials. It was kinda a wash. I paid most of my attention to eating and making the poppers Heather had bought for me. The poppers were pretty good.

We were all eating during the half time show, so we all missed Janet's boob. Oh well. It's not like there aren't already 40 different pictures of it on the web (this blog included). We headed out in the middle of the 3rd quarter so we could get the kids in bed. (Ian's has preschool on Monday - so we like him to get a full night's rest on nights before school). Because of how the first 3 quarters had played out, I was surprised when I turned the TV on at home after getting the kids into bed to still see the game going on. I figured I would be catching the end of the trophy presentation. I was glad I got to catch the end of what turned out to be a very exciting Super Bowl. (It also sounded wicked cool on the home theater)

Favorite commerical: the one for the NFL that had all the football stars singing "Tomorrow"

So overall it was pretty good weekend.

Things started to turn at 12:20 am this morning. That's when I was awaken to the sound of our cat vomiting in our bedroom. So there I am at 12:30 in the frickin' morning cleaning up cat puke in my boxers in the dark. Emma wakes up screaming later in the morning. I screw somthing up with my alarm so I end up sleeping later than I want to. I don't get all the things done before I leave for the train, which puts me in a pissy mood. The train ride was okay, but then once in work I can see the tension level getting cranked up because we have the lead conversion issue. Some of the people at work annoy the piss out of me, especially when there is some sort of work crisis. They run around and act all grave like these business problems are a matter of life and death. Like some poor little 9-year old girl's life lays in the balance about we can do with an Excel spreadsheet. Shit.

Plus, they booed the poor goundhog and we're in for 3 - 5 inches of snow tonight.

Whoops!

Justin Timberlake "accidently" ripped off part of Janet Jackson's outfit, exposing one of her breasts, at the end of the halftime show.

We watched the Super Bowl over at my Dad's house (at least the first 3 quarters - caught the exciting end back at home) We had the halftime show on the whole time - but we all completely missed this. I think it was because we were eating or playing with Ian or Emma.

It's a good thing too. My grandparents were at my Dad's house also. Not sure how we could have explained away that incident - especially after my grandfather harassing Beyonce Knowles for what I considered a fairly conservative and traditional rendition of the National Anthem.

Tough Crowd

Groundhog Booed As He Sees His Shadow

When Punxsutawney Phil came out of his hole this morning, he saw his shadow - which means we've got 6 more weeks of winter ahead of us.

The crowd in Punxsutawney booed poor Phil for just doing his job.

But would you expect from people in Pennsylvania. This is the state that booed Santa Claus.